Obedience, Pet & Agility Training

“Problem Dog Consultations

Home and Group Training Lessons for all Breeds & Ages

(412) 302-6736

Dog Training in Butler, PA

Class Descriptions

Entry Level Classes

Please note requirements listed after each class. Entry Level Classes will be confirmed via email 2 days before class begins.

Now Available: Class Auditing

Is the class you want to attend full? Auditing a class allows YOU to attend the training classes without your puppy. You can take your own notes, and you will also receive the support emails each week that cover the material taught in class. In the event that someone drops out of the class, auditing students who have kept up with training their puppy at home will have a chance to take the working spot that opened up, with proof of vaccinations required at that time. The cost to audit Complete Puppy is $60. The cost to audit Basic Manners is $80.

Complete Puppy Class

For puppies ages 3-9 months. Small breed dogs of any age can also take this class, but are not eligible for the AKC STAR PUPPY award if they are over one year of age. The program focuses on teaching good social skills for your puppy, as well as addressing the concerns of a “new puppy parent” such as crate training, biting, chewing etc.

Classes will help owners discover what type of temperament their puppy has, and the best methods to use to teach that puppy all the way into adulthood. Topics addressed include: Teaching puppies to pay attention to their owner; basic obedience commands like sit, lie down, and stand; introduction to strange and new articles each week; grooming tips; behavioral & housebreaking discussions; chewing; biting, social skills, etc. Complete Puppy is 7 weeks long.

During this class, all puppies enrolled will be evaluated and tested with the criteria for the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Program. When puppies have completed this class, they are ready to step into the Graduate Puppy class to further their education and development into a great family dog.

REQUIREMENTS – For ages 3-9 months (older for small breed dogs). Proof of vaccinations is required.

Graduate Puppy Class

For dogs who have fulfilled the requirements of the COMPLETE PUPPY CLASS at Family Dog. This class includes training exercises such as leash walking/Heel training, adding variations to the STAY command, and more work on COMING WHEN CALLED. The extra benefit of GRADUATE puppy is that it is the learning level is above and beyond other entry level students, so Agility obstacles, CGC behaviors, and more detailed discussions about dog behavior are addressed. Students are also familiar with each other, and friendships between humans, and dogs are being formed.

Graduate Puppy also includes a Leave It command, a Right side walking command, and different ways to prevent a dog from jumping up on you or other people. Different dog sports such as Agility, Rally Obedience, AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate, etc are also discussed. Graduate Puppy is 4 weeks long.

REQUIREMENTS – Dogs must have completed the Complete Puppy Program with Family Dog Obedience, or get prior approval from instructor by having a placement test scheduled.

Basic Manners 1 Class

For dogs ages 10 months and up. The focus in Basic Manners 1 is to reinforce the basic skills that most dog owner’s desire: The dog will already sit and lie down on command, but will learn how to stay in place, how to come when called, and how to walk nicely on leash. Time is spent discussing different tools, such as collars and leashes, that can be useful in training, as well as brief discussions on adolescent behaviors and challenges. Basic Manners 1 also includes a Leave It command, a PLACE command, a right side walking command and several other “Mind Your Manners” practices. Basic Manners 1 is 6 weeks long. Cost $175. Class size is limited to 6 dog/handler teams.

REQUIREMENTS – For dogs ages 10 months and up. Dogs must be free from aggressive behaviors towards people and other dogs in order to attend this class. If dogs are thought to be aggressive/reactive towards people or dogs, a private lesson will be required before attending this class. MALE dogs must be neutered if older than 8 months of age unless prior approval is given. 

Intro to Clicker Training

Clicker Training is an effective and pet-friendly method of dog training that anyone can learn. Clicker training can help to teach tricks, solve common behavior problems, and help progress training in games like TreibballAgility, or other dog sports. Using a clicker (a small noise maker that makes a clicking sound) is a brief, audible, and consistent way to reward. Clicker training takes minutes to learn, but can be used for a lifetime of training. This class will introduce the clicker to your dog, and help the student learn the “how, when, where, and why” of the benefits of Clicker Training. Students will be given projects and assignments to work on in class and at home.

REQUIREMENTS – Dogs need to be social with people and other dogs, and be willing/interested and comfortable eating food rewards during the training process. For clicker class you will need 1. A clicker 2. A treat pouch (both of which are available for sale at the class) 3. A lot of small, bite-sized tasty rewards such as diced cheese bits, freeze-dried liver, etc.

Intermediate Level Classes

Intermediate level classes require one or more Entry Level Classes. Please note additional requirements listed after each class. Intermediate Level Classes are not confirmed via email unless there is a problem with the registration.

Basic Manners 2 Class

Basic Manners 2 Class is the continuation from Basics Manners 1. Previously taught skills from Basics 1 are continued to be practiced and proofed, with some new activities and skills. Canine Good Citizen skills are taught and practiced. Class may elect to be tested for CGC if ready. Students must have completed Basic Manners 1, Complete Puppy, or prove equivalent training if coming from another training school.

Basic Manners 2 is 4 weeks long. Cost $80 (CGC test is additional $10). Class size is limited to 6-8 dog/handler teams. 

REQUIREMENTS – For dogs ages 10 months and up. Dogs must be free from aggressive behaviors towards people and other dogs in order to attend this class. If dogs are thought to be aggressive/reactive towards people or dogs, a private lesson will be required before attending this class. MALE dogs must be neutered if older than 8 months of age unless prior approval is given.

Intro to Treadmill Class

Scheduled in small groups of 4 dogs, Introduction to Treadmill Class will cover some basic assessments of the type and temperament of each dog, and a step by step breakdown of the process. Time will be spent getting your dog acclimated to the various platforms and styles of treadmills, with the focus of the experience being an all positive one. Class size is chosen based on size/length of dog-2 large treadmills, and 2 small/medium treadmills are available. If you don’t have a treadmill at home, opportunities exist for you to continue to use our treadmills for a small fee.

REQUIREMENTS – It is recommended that your dog has attended Complete Puppy classes and/or Basic Manners classes with us in order to enroll. Dogs must be well-socialized and non-reactive to people or other dogs to participate.

Versatility Class

These sessions are designed to offer more challenging exercises for both the dog and the handler. Versatility classes help you strengthen the connection between you and your dog by introducing distance/duration/distraction elements during training practices, achieving a higher level of learning with your dog.  New skills that will be taught include “touch/targeting” practices, various ‘leave it’ exercises, and continued practice of  the “place’ command. Classes may also address the different aspects of dog training activities, such as exercises from Rally Obedience, CGC skills, beginner Agility obstacles and maneuvers, teaching tricks, introductory Fit Fido practices, and clicker/marker training skills.

REQUIREMENTS – It is recommended that your dog has attended Complete Puppy classes and/or Basic Manners classes with us in order to enroll. Dogs must be well-socialized and non-reactive to people or other dogs to participate.

FDO Fit Fido Class

This class will show you how to improve your dog’s fitness level through a combination of balance, strength, endurance, and stretching exercises, both with FitPaws canine fitness equipment, treadmills, and everyday items you may have at home. The goals are to help your dog achieve health at any age, or stage of life, and get body systems working at optimal levels with conditioning. These activities can improve body awareness, maintain mobility, and decrease risk of injury for the active dog, as well as build confidence, create focus, and improve your relationship with your dog. This class is great for ALL dogs, not just dogs who compete. More information about FIT DOG Clubs – American Kennel Club 
For more details about the products used, visit www.fitpawsusa.com or www.totofit.com

REQUIREMENTS – Because of the nature of the equipment used in Fit Fido classes, dogs that are signed up MUST have ‘groomed’ nails: clipped AND filed or ground to take off the sharp edges. If your dog is not tolerant of nail clipping or grinding, you can still participate in the class, but you may not be able to use the large air inflated items like the Peanut, Ball, or large Egg-shaped items when it comes time to introduce them. You WILL still gain the benefits of using the other items, like wobble boards, balance disks, and cavaletti, etc. We can also offer training to help your dog become more comfortable with their nails being groomed in a separately scheduled private lesson.

The Nose Knows Class

An Introduction to the Dog Sport of Noseworks 

In K9 Nose Work, dogs learn how to search for a specific odor or odors and indicate the source. Dogs start by searching for their favorite food or toy reward hidden in a variety of environments, increasing the challenges and adding new search skills as the dog progresses. Dogs will learn to find the target odors used in K9 Nose Work: birch, anise, and clove, starting with Birch.   Once target odors are introduced to the dog, he will search for the odor only and find its source, then get rewarded by his handler with his favorite food or toy reward.

K9 Nose Work involves four different search elements: container, interior, exterior, and vehicles. Our classes will mainly focus Container, and Interior searches, although if students continue to train, the other elements will be taught.
Some of the many benefits of K9 Nose Work are:

  • Dogs easily burn lots of mental and physical energy doing searches
  • Searches can be done anywhere you can take your dog
  • In classes, dogs work one at a time and rest crated or safely in a vehicle between searches so reactive dogs can enjoy the activity, too. If all dogs in the class have good social skills, they can remain in the class area. 
  • Shy or fearful dogs build confidence and overactive dogs put their energy into fun searches
  • Strong bond between dog and handler as handler learns to observe, understand, and rely upon his dog
  • Great activity for dogs that have health restrictions, such as arthritis, because the activity does not involve climbing or require running

This activity allows dogs to work individually, so while one dog is working, ALL other dogs must be in another area, such as a crate, or in your vehicle if weather permits. You must provide your own crate, and your dog should be comfortable being crated during these classes. Initially no special equipment is required, but handlers may want to acquire a long leash (10′) and/or a harness if desired. Treat bags/fanny pack/carpenter apron are also very useful. Resources on where to purchase items such as odor, and tins, will be available to students.

Class will be taught by Gretchen Meyer. Gretchen has been active in a variety of dog activities, from agility to hunt tests, and obedience. In 2012 she was introduced to NACSW and loved the fact that dogs of any age, size, breed, or shape can easily enjoy the sniff and find game. The activity creates confidence, and helps build trust between dog and owner. Her motto is “The K9 nose knows how to have fun.

REQUIREMENTS – Cost of the class is $80 for the 4 week class (plus a fee for the mock event if there is interest). Class size is limited to 8 dog/handler teams. REGISTRATION is required for the class, and it is first come – first serve. Payment in full as a deposit will hold a spot in class and we are accepting registrations now. Please use the Family Dog Obedience class registration form, and mark it NOSE KNOWS CLASS.

Café Class (AKA Socialization Class)

The Café class is a semi-social event. It is designed to help dogs and owners practice “socialization.” Behaving in various social settings such as cafés, veterinarians offices, and other locations around people and other dogs, in a calm, and accepting manner is an important skill, and it needs to be practiced routinely. Activities include: teaching the dog how to go under a table/chair and lay quietly for short periods of time; how to stay in the “down” position while people, bikes, other dogs, and other distractions pass by; and most importantly, how to behave in the presence of food – without begging! Café class is one hour long, and will be offered periodically throughout the year. This is a great activity to help folks practice for the Therapy Dog test, (TDI) and also the Community Canine Test (CGCA).

REQUIREMENTS – Café class is open to dogs and puppies ages 3 months and up-however this is not an ENTRY level class. Dogs that are disruptive and unmanageable will be requested to schedule a private lesson. Students that sign up may bring a snack or beverage of their choice, but coffee and donuts will be provided.

Pet Partners Handler Training Course

There can be something magical about the interactions between humans and animals. However, there’s actually a lot that you need to know to successfully achieve that magical moment. In this Pet Partners handler training course, handlers will learn the skills that are needed to visit safely, as well as what to expect from their team evaluation, so that they can prepare for success. Basic Obedience skills will be practiced and polished, and you will also become oriented with policies and procedures that you’ll be responsible for following. This course is designed to help you pass the THERAPY DOG EVALUATION through Pet Partners.

Pet Partners’ reputation as the gold standard among therapy animal organizations is due to the rigorous standards the organization has for both animals and handlers. Pet Partners’ mission is to improve human health and well-being through the power of the human-animal bond. Handlers will need to take the THERAPY HANDLER ONLINE COURSE through www.petpartners.org and pass the testing procedure there before being able to take the THERAPY DOG EVALUATION. There are additional costs associated with the online course, and the evaluation. You can participate in this class while you are taking your online course.

Classes will be taught by Janet Ellis. Janet is a retired school teacher from the Slippery Rock school district. Janet and her dog MacDuff, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, have participated in training classes at Family Dog starting with Puppy classes, and then continuing on in Agility, and advanced obedience skills classes. They passed their Pet Partners Evaluation in 2016, and have already logged 240+ hours of visits, seeing over 5800 people and patients in the facilities she visits.

REQUIREMENTS – Cost $75. Class size limited to 8 dog/handler teams. No special equipment is required-However Pet Partners has guidelines for types of collars that are approved-NO METAL collars, no choke or pinch collars, some harnesses are approved, and martingale collars need to be ALL fabric. Those requirements are discussed. Dogs can participate in the class before their first birthday, but they need to be ONE YEAR of age to take the THERAPY DOG EVALUATION. 

Trick Dog Testing

Family Dog is working out the details on TRICK DOG classes. Students are encouraged to attend VERSATILITY class to practice their tricks skills for now, as we are only offering testing by appointment for Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced levels. NOTE: Testing is by appointment. Use Express Registration form. Four appointments are available each day, 15 minutes apart. Please be flexible with your availability on your chosen day. More information on the AKC website.

REQUIREMENTS – Students MUST provide all paperwork, and props as needed. Weave poles are available; additional $2 charge *MAY apply for set up. 

Rally

Rally is a fun and exciting team sport for dogs and their handlers! Dog and handler teams navigate a course at a brisk, continuous pace, with numbered signs indicating different exercises to perform. It is a fun test of obedience and the trust in the relationship between dog and handler. All dogs, purebred and mixed breed, are encouraged to participate. Rally is fun for all—family dogs, teams beginning show careers, teams retiring from more physically demanding sports and teams who just enjoy a good, challenging competition in a friendly atmosphere. Any dog in good health is a strong candidate for Rally. There are even special provisions for dogs with certain handicaps. So small or large, young or old, purebred or mixed breed, they are all able to join in the fun. Rally helps improve your dog’s focus and build teamwork and a trusting relationship with your dog in a fun activity by navigating a series of unique exercises.

REQUIREMENTS – It is recommended that your dog has attended Complete Puppy classes and/or Basic Manners classes with us in order to enroll. Dogs must be well-socialized and non-reactive to people or other dogs to participate. 
For more information about Rally, please visit the American Kennel Club Website

Advance Level Classes

Advanced level classes require one or more Entry Level Classes and one or more Intermediate Level Classes. Please note additional requirements listed after each class. Advanced Level Classes are not confirmed via email unless there is a problem with the registration.

AKC Canine Good Citizen / CGCA-AKC Community Canine

Family Dog Obedience offers the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test, as a same day-“class & test” option. This is open to dogs and handlers that have participated in basic dog obedience training classes, and have some knowledge of the CGC program. 

Students will participate in a class that offers practice time for each of the 10 required exercises. Students will practice using other students as needed, such as in TEST #8: Reaction to Another Dog, or TEST #10: Supervised Separation. At the end of the class, students who feel ready to take the test will sign the Responsible Dog Owners Pledge, and prepare to take the test with the CGC evaluator, as required by the American Kennel Club. Students who do not feel ready to take the test may remain and watch the test, and even participate if needed for the Walking Through a Crowd portion. 

Pre-registration is required for the class portion, and students should bring their own brush for their dog. Class fee is $15. Participation in the CGC test is an additional $10.

REQUIREMENTS – For dogs 6 months of age and older. While some dogs and handlers may only need the 4-week duration of this course to pass the test, it is HIGHLY recommended that your dog has attended Complete Puppy classes and Basic Manners classes with us in order to enroll. Dogs must be well-socialized and non-reactive to people or other dogs to participate.

For more information about the CGC test, and its requirements, please visit the AKC website at www.akc.org, and search for “Canine Good Citizen.”

Pre-Agility 1 Class

If you are interested in learning about the sport of dog agility, this is the place to begin! This class is designed to introduce you and your dog to the basic rules and handling skills needed to guide your dog around the agility course. A variety of agility obstacles will be introduced in a fun and safe manner. All jumps are kept at a low height and the contact obstacles are introduced in a planned sequence and at lowered heights. Most scenarios can be practiced at home with very little extra equipment needed. This class is a 6 weeks long and class size is limited to 6 participants.

Pre-Agility 2 Class

This class is designed to be a continuation of the Pre-Agility 1 class. During this session we complete our introduction to all the agility obstacles and add some additional handling skills. Short off-leash obstacle sequences are used to build confidence and apply basic handling moves.

REQUIREMENTS – It is recommended that your dog has attended Complete Puppy classes and/or Graduate Puppy / Basic Manners classes with us in order to enroll in Pre-Agility 1, and dogs must have completed Pre-Agility 1 with us (or show equivalent skill level) in order to enroll in Pre-Agility 2. Dogs must be well-socialized and non-reactive to people or other dogs to participate.

Agility Level 1 Class

Please note: Our Agility classes are aimed at helping train the FAMILY DOG in this recreational activity. While students could move into Competitive aspects of Agility, our focus is for the FAMILY DOG to have fun, get more exercise, and learn improved communication.

There is no affiliation with any of the competition venues (AKC, NADAC etc.) The main goal for offering Agility classes is to give handlers and dogs an opportunity to practice a fun event that requires teamwork, communication between dog and handler, and foundational obedience skills.

This class will focus on strengthening the basic handling skills from the Pre-Agility agility class, adding new handling skills and increasing your dog’s stamina and proficiency on obstacles like weave poles, contact obstacles and multiple jump arrangements. This class aims for successful completion of longer sequences, including beginner (ACT) level courses and full height obstacles. This class is 6 weeks long and class size is limited to 6 participants.

REQUIREMENTS – Your dog must first attend the Pre-Agility class with us in order to enroll for Agility Level 1. Dogs must be well-socialized and non-reactive to people or other dogs to participate.

Agility Level 2 Class

Please note: Our Agility classes are aimed at helping train the FAMILY DOG in this recreational activity. While students could move into Competitive aspects of Agility, our focus is for the FAMILY DOG to have fun, get more exercise, and learn improved communication.

There is no affiliation with any of the competition venues (AKC, NADAC etc.) The main goal for offering Agility classes is to give handlers and dogs an opportunity to practice a fun event that requires teamwork, communication between dog and handler, and foundational obedience skills.

This class will guide students to further advance their handling skills and to improve their dog’s performance on all agility obstacles. Novice and Open level courses are analyzed and practiced. Ring procedures are taught and handling techniques are stressed to best match the strengths and weaknesses of each working team. Dogs must be able to perform all the agility obstacles. Students in this class may be interested in participating in Agility Run-Throughs.

REQUIREMENTS – Your dog must first attend the Agility Level 1 class with us and be able to satisfactorily perform obstacles with OFF LEASH control in order to enroll for Agility 2. Students can repeat Agility 1 several times if they wish, and will receive a recommendation from the instructor to move up to Agility 2 when ready. Dogs must be well-socialized and non-reactive to people or other dogs to participate.

Agility Run-Throughs

Multiple options of courses will be offered, and time on the floor will be reserved by jump heights. You will be able to run once or multiple times, or select segments of the course to practice as you wish. Dogs must remain behind ring gating or be otherwise contained when it is not their turn to run. You may register with more than one dog, or participate in more than one run-through. Class time will run until everyone is finished, or 9:00 pm. Run-throughs are $5 for the first run and $3 for each run after that per person/dog. Disruptive, uncontrollable dogs may be excused.

Agility Course Challenge

This class is designed to offer a competition level challenge to those students that desire to advance their handling skills and/or proof the skills of their dog on a full course. A new course is presented each week with a variety of handling/obstacle challenges. Handlers may elect to perform the entire course or just a sequence of obstacles in a manner which suits their current training goals and abilities. Specific challenges may be highlighted and various handling options discussed during class as each handler attempts to perfect their skills. Handlers run the entire course multiple times, depending on class size and time limitations.

REQUIREMENTS – Students must have participated in Agility program classes with Family Dog Obedience. This program is offered as a six-week class, not as an ‘open run thru’. 

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COVID-19 UPDATE

Due to the current health crisis, Family Dog Obedience is temporarily closed to the public.

We are working on creating some ONLINE class activities to help you continue with the training of your dog or puppy. One possible option we're considering is ZOOM meetings. Please watch your email for information about these options. 

Further communication and helpful training tips will also be posted to our Facebook page

Thank you for your patience and understanding during these unprecedented times. 

Stay safe, 

Val